Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Playing Up The Positive - The Basics of Contentment

The old song says, "you've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative". That's good advice. It may not be the ultimate key to happiness, but doing just that can increase your contentment in life.

Most of us would probably agree that there are things in our lives that need improvement, things we would like to change. There is always room for improvement, but we need to be content with the way our lives are, too.

Positive thinking is a must. Letting the negative thoughts in or dwelling on negative issues just brings us down. Positive thinking makes us feel better and gives us more energy as well as encouragement and a clear path to contentment.

Part of banishing those negative thoughts is doing some examination of our lives. If our 'lot in life' seems like a raw deal, looking at things a little more closely may prove that we have it better than we thought.

Basically we can break this down into three categories: being content with who we are, being content with what we do and being content with what we have.

Being content with who we are. Look at yourself. Not just your physical appearance, but your personality, your habits, your skills, your feelings and your overall identity. What do you like about yourself? If there are things you wish you could change about yourself, how important are those things to your overall contentment in life?

Our friends and family play a major role in our contentment with our lives. They are a part of who we are. Think about how the people in your life see you. What do they like about you? What do you like about them? There are probably hundreds of positive things we can identify about ourselves and our relationships with our friends and family.

Don't worry about it if someone doesn't like you. It's more important to like yourself.

Don't think about how you wish you were more attractive or athletic or talented. Don't compare yourself to others. Identify your strengths and your good qualities and focus on those.

Being content with what we do. Most of us definitely have things we dislike about our jobs. We may not like our boss, or the hours are horrible. Maybe our work is too challenging, or too boring. Try to zoom in on the positives, though. The biggest positive is your paycheck. Maybe you'd like it to be bigger, but at the end of the day, it's still a positive.

Do you get along with your co-workers? Usually there are some people we don't like at work. Compare the number of people you don't like to the number of people you get along with at work. Think about the co-workers whom you consider friends. These are the folks who really make the work day more bearable, and that's an important factor in being content with your job.

Having goals and ambitions is essential. Many of us aspire to do what we love for a living. But being content shouldn't be postponed until our dreams are realized. We also need to find a way to enjoy the work we do now.

What do you like about your work? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment? Do you like what you do at work every day? Are there opportunities to try different tasks you think you might enjoy?Finding things you like about the work you do is the most important part of being content on the job.

If you're really miserable at your job, and other than a paycheck nothing comes up positive, you can always change jobs. There's no sense trying to force yourself to be content with a job when it's just not possible.

Celebrating your accomplishments is a great way to boost your self-esteem, a must for being content with your life. If you are doing well at your job, be proud of yourself. Do something special to reward yourself.

If you feel like you've botched something up, don't be too hard on yourself or put yourself down. No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Think back to what you have identified as the positives about yourself. Vow to do better.

Don't think about how much you hate your job. Think of the benefits of having that job and focus on your goals and ambitions.

Being content with what we have. There always seems to be something we want. Some new toy or gadget hits the market and we just have to have it. If we can't get it, does that mean our lives are going to be empty and meaningless? Of course not.

Material possessions don't fill any kind of void in life. There are some that are basic essentials, and some folks don't even have those. We don't need the latest model appliance or the more expensive car. As for the shiny gizmos, they may give us some happiness, but it's usually not for long, and then they get tossed aside.

Take stock of the things you have. Do you have everything you need? How much stuff do you have that you don't really need?

Don't feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses. They're not better than you because they have more stuff.

It's important to devote more attention to the positives in life than we do the negatives. That may not always be easy, but it's essential to our contentment.

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